St. Patricks cemetery stands on the Southeast corner of the southeast corner of Section 36 in Lee township. It is adjacent to St. Patricks Catholic church for the community known as the Irish Settlement.
Some of the early pioneers located in this part of the county, and there was much discussion as to whether the church and cemetery should be located on the north side or on the south side of the North river.
Mrs. Alice McCusker OLaughlin, who recently moved from Winterset to Des Moines, wrote an interesting account of the cemetery for the Madison County Antique Association. She said that a stranger, an old man and government surveyor, returning from further west, became ill.
He stopped to rest at the home of Patrick Walsh and died there, on the south side of the river. While Mr. Walsh and some of his neighbors left to locate a burying
location, a half dozen men from the north side of the river, slipped in and took the corpse, buried him and thus started the cemetery on the north side of the river. Soon afterwards, in the summer of 1856, or 100 years ago, the church was
built. Very many of the first settlers lie in St. Patricks cemetery now, and also their descendents. The family names of Connor,
McMannus, McLaughlin, Ryan, Cunningham, Finan, Monaghan, Gill and Swift appear, even to the fourth and fifth generations.
John Cutler, the young man, then 15 years of age, left behind to guard the body of the surveyor, or the first burial, died at the age of 99 years in 1930, and he lies now in St. Patricks
cemetery. (See note below). One of the well-known covered bridges of Madison County is named in his honor.
Also, on the stones can be seen the names of heroes of the Civil War. Of them, Martin Waldron and M. M. Gilleran are buried here. One will note on the headstones of this cemetery, as well as in many of the others, the young ages of the dead, that is 18 years and many infants from two months to three years.
Although there was apparently no marker on the first grave, dates are on the stones as early as 1858 and 1859. One Memorial is standing in honor of a young First World War, Martin
Douheny. It was unusual because it was such a large memorial, and because the young man had died of influenza and was actually buried at sea.
St. Patricks cemetery is still used by the parish people and is kept in good condition.
Coordinator's Note: Mrs. O'Laughlin's narrative contains at least
two errors. John Cutler was born in 1832 and was probably around
age 25 rather than 15 when this event occurred and he died 31 Jan
1932, not 1930.